Back in Athens in 2004, the United States men's basketball team learned a lesson that the rest of the world had finally caught up with them. They lost three games in those Olympics; more than all of the previous Olympics combined. They had to settle for the bronze medal. Thus did they learn: the gold medal is no longer automatic for the U.S.

Since then, the U.S. team has taken the games more seriously. They went through the next three Olympics undefeated. That changed with the Tokyo games, when they lost the first preliminary game to France.

Fortunately for them, they were able to redeem themselves, as they met France again in the gold medal game. This time, the outcome was reversed, and the U.S. prevailed for their fourth straight gold medal.

However, I think that they'd better take notes. The next Olympics are just three years away, and they will be in Paris. France will be considered a serious medal contender.

Kent Syverson